Ninety percent of the eastern Borneo rain forest has been sold off and destroyed, but who has profited? That is the question The Borneo Case seeks to answer, and this globetrotting documentary will travel from Montreal to London to Rio de Janeiro to Malaysia, heeding the infamous advice Deep Throat gave Bob Woodward: “Follow the money.”

At the center of this environmental catastrophe is Abdul Taib Mahmud, the chief minister of Sarawak, who stole billions of dollars through illegal logging and palm oil production. For 33 years, the “white-haired rajah” took grafts and hid the money in secret accounts, world banks, and with politically connected U.S. investors. If this were a novel, then Taib would be a Bond villain.

But this isn’t a novel, and Taib isn’t an over-the-top archvillain. Instead, Taib and his family are just profiteers in a world where cash is king. Filmmakers Erik Pauser and Dylan Williams spent five years following activists, investigative journalists, and one flamboyant radio deejay to try and uncover the truth behind what ex-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called “the greatest environmental crime in history.” Along the way, they find exile, missing persons, threats, intimidations, and deaths of a highly suspicious nature.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Borneo Case (2016)
Directed by Erik Pauser, Dylan Williams
Amp Films, Not rated, Running time 78 minutes, Premiered November 2016 at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival

The above review first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 24, No. 30, “Ushering in a great era for film.”